Dutch is a Germanic language and the native language of The Netherlands. It is also spoken in several other countries, most notably South Africa (#Afrikaans ), Suriname, Belgium (Flemish) and some Caribbean islands such as Aruba and Bonaire. Today, there are around 23 million native speakers of Dutch worldwide.
The Dutch were one of the first European nations to trade with Japan, starting in the 1600s. In fact, during Japan’s closed period, from the 17th to 19th century, the Dutch were the only European nation allowed to trade with Japan. They had to work from a dedicated trading post on the island of Deshima. Thanks to this special relationship the Dutch became Japan’s window on the world. Because the Dutch introduced new goods like rubber, glass, cork, and nickel, and technologies, such as lamps, pistols, scalpels, and pens to Japan, the Japanese started using Dutch names for the new things. Words from Dutch such as kōhii (コーヒー) for coffee, and biiru (ビール) for beer are still used.
When the Dutch opened a surgeon’s post on the small island of Deshima, high-ranking Japanese officials would come for treatment when their own local doctors failed. Dutch surgeons brought along their knowledge of treatments, medicine, and medical books. Remarkable, in those days anything vaguely Western or foreign was called ‘Oranda’, the word ‘Holland’ in Japanese. All Western sciences and products that were introduced to the Japanese resulted in so-called `Rangaku` or Dutch Learning. The most famous teacher to the Japanese, still known today, is Philip Franz von Siebold, who was German, and who taught about western science, medicine and other matters of cultural value. His resulted in many Dutch loanwords entering Japanese.
Here are examples of some common modern Japanese words which come from Dutch:
Arukōru, which means alcohol, came from Dutch alcohol. Biiru, which means beer, is from bier. Kōhii, which means coffee is from Dutch koffie. Hoppu, which means hop (the plant), is derived from Dutch hop. Karan, which means tap or faucet, came from Dutch kraan. Kokku, which means cook (the person) or chef, came from Dutch kok. Koppu (こっぷ), which means drinking glass, is from Dutch kop. Mesu, which means scalpel, comes from Dutch mes (knife). Shiroppu, which means syrup, from Dutch siroop. And Zukku, which means canvas cloth came from Dutch doek. And as most academic knowledge was communicated in written Dutch, it hence became the language of science during that period. Working from the tiny island of Deshima, just off the coast of Nagasaki, the Dutch introduced their medical technology which at time was totally new to the Japanese. The German doctor Von Siebold performed his work and taught Western medicine to the baffled Japanese. Despite the phonological adaptation to the Japanese mother tongue, we can still recognize the typical Dutch words.
Von Siebold used Dutch medical terms which ended up in Japanese and you can still recognize the origin of supoito (pipette, from Dutch ‘spuit’), pinsetto (from ‘tweezers’ or ‘pincet’ in Dutch) and ransetto (‘lancet’). Not only medical attributes, but also names for organs were influenced. We recognize shinkei (‘nerve’ from Dutch ‘zenuw’). And kiniine, which means quinine, came from Dutch ‘kinine’. Moruhine, which means morphine, came from Dutch ‘morfine’.
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